What is a Cathedral Setting Ring?

Cathedral settings are an elegant and classic staple in engagement ring design. They are the definition of a traditional option that can be represented in all different style aesthetics. A cathedral setting literally and figuratively elevates your center stone to take center stage alongside distinct, and sometimes surprising, profile elements. If that sounds like your kind of engagement ring, read on to see the pros and cons of a cathedral setting ring and picking a style that’s right for you.

What is a Cathedral Setting?

A cathedral setting gets its name from the structural elements of the setting that mimic the arches in doorways and ceilings of Gothic-style cathedrals. Just imagine one of the most classic representations of a Gothic-style cathedral, the Notre Dame cathedral, with its numerous flying buttresses and extensive sculptural decoration. This striking architectural style is known for its exceptional height and created the tallest buildings of its time.

For the ring setting, arches of metal come up from the shank, often flanking the center stone and helping to hold it securely in place. The band of a cathedral setting bends in either a concave or convex fashion, raising the center stone above the rest of the setting. How high the stone is raised depends on the style, with both higher and lower profiles designs being popular.


  • A cathedral setting highlights and accentuates the center stone often making it appear larger and more prominent if it’s set higher.
  • Offers an elegant and unique design by adding height and character to the engagement ring with minimal expense.


  • If it’s set higher, it’s likely to snag on clothing, furniture, and hair often due to the swirling and sculptural nature of the arches.
  • Cathedral settings can feature many crevices where dirt and debris can get lodged, so it’s more difficult to clean.
hand engraved cathedral set ring

Guide to Cathedral Settings

There are many things to love about a cathedral setting, from its versatility to its very affordable yet dramatic appeal. Before making the decision to go for a cathedral engagement ring, get to know how its features will work for or against your lifestyle and desired engagement ring look.

Cost-Saving Style

The cost difference between cathedral setting engagement rings and simpler styles, like a basket setting, is minimal. The additional metal and metalwork doesn’t greatly increase the price. Also, often the flourishes and uniqueness of the cathedral setting adds intrigue in place of more costly adornments like side stones or additional diamond accents.

Makes the Center Stone Pop

Aside from having beautiful and unique design elements, cathedral settings are ideal for accentuating and emphasizing your center stone. Although cathedral settings can be lower, they are traditionally known to have a higher profile, thus raising the center stone and making it appear more prominent and sometimes larger.

Works with All Styles

The cathedral setting can be intricate and ornate, or subtly decorative and simple. The nature of the cathedral is that it’s entirely customizable making it incredibly versatile for every style of design aesthetic. The arches themselves and the space between the arches and shank can be filled for a bold look, left empty for a minimalist look, or embellished with filigree and milgrain patterns for vintage appeal. Any personality can be reflected in a cathedral setting.

Very Durable and Secure

The cathedral setting doesn’t have a designated method for securing the center stone. This feature of the setting can be customized to achieve different looks and styles. The gemstone itself can be secured with prongs, a bezel, a tension setting or any other type of setting you desire. The additional metal of the arches also helps to reinforce the metal elements holding the stone in place.

view of a basket setting

Sits Well with Wedding Bands

One of the biggest benefits to a cathedral setting engagement ring is that it usually works perfectly when stacked with a wedding band. The raised nature of the design allows the wedding band to easily nestle underneath the stone and flush against the engagement ring band. An anniversary band can also be added later to the top to create a stacked look.

More Difficult to Clean

While cleaning of your engagement ring should be performed by a professional at least once a year, cleaning that you do at home in between those visits is harder to do with a cathedral setting. The small, open crevices in a cathedral setting are prone to trapping dirt and debris, especially if you don’t remove your ring when applying makeup or lotion, or when washing hands. You’ll likely be cleaning your ring more often and the tucked away areas will be harder to clean effectively.

Snags and Bumps Are Common

The distinctive and dramatic raised look of the cathedral setting also means it has a great chance of getting snagged on clothes, furniture, and hair. It’s also more likely to be bumped and banged as you go about daily activities. The strong and durable nature of the setting make it suitable for everyday wear, but it’s good to have some extra care and awareness when you have it on.

Cathedral Setting Ring Inspiration

When choosing a cathedral setting engagement ring, you want to keep the shape of the center stone in mind. While it is a versatile setting, some cathedral setting styles can overwhelm certain stones. Your main goal should be striking a balance so the features of both the center stone and the cathedral setting exist in harmony. Also, the style and overall look of the cathedral setting will differ based on the other design elements, especially the way the stone is secured.

More active lifestyles would benefit from a lower-profile cathedral setting. This will help to limit the exposure of the center stone to bumps and breakage. But lower profile does not have to mean a less intricate or dramatic engagement ring. Case in point, our Adelane incorporates a delicately tapered pavé band with a classic cathedral style for a timeless solitaire look. And for a modern appeal, our Lorelei draws sculptural elements from nature in a vine-like, split-shank cathedral setting for a rustic and elegant look.

For those drawn to the impressive height of a cathedral setting, every design aesthetic from vintage-inspired to sleek and modern can achieve that vaulted look. For an overall vintage design, our Kenzi features hand-engraved details of milgrain and filigree with a few side stones for added sparkle. And in a nod to contemporary minimalism, our Aliss features smooth, polished metal in a classic solitaire engagement ring with subtle yet striking swirling arches to highlight a stunning center stone.

Cathedral settings can be charming, classy, surprising and endlessly unique. With their truly versatile nature and added durability, they’re an excellent choice for an engagement ring that will stand the test of time.

Cathedral set ring

Vintage-inspired cathedral set ring

Tapered Cathedral Band Ring

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